The New Plastics Economy
A recent report produced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum, with analytical support from McKinsey & Company, revealed that 95% of the value of plastic packaging material—worth $80 to $120 billion annually—is lost to the economy.
Taking an "it's time to practice what we preach" attitude, the report highlighted many of the goals outlined in the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all 193 UN members in 2015. It also noted how companies that can develop efficient, innovative plastic recycling technologies stand to reap sizable profits while helping to close the unsustainable gap.
Since the report was released, the Foundation has brought together governments, major businesses, and economists to understand how our plastics problem can be solved with a circular economy:
The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics provides, for the first time, a vision of a global economy in which plastics never become waste, and outlines concrete steps towards achieving the systemic shift needed.
The coalition plans to build on the momentum created by the New Plastics Economy initiative and work toward more ambitious commitments.
They specifically want to focus on: (i) eliminating problematic (hard to recycle) or unnecessary plastics through innovation and new business models; (ii) ensuring that all plastic packaging remaining in commercial use is recycled or composted; and (iii) that it is made from as much recycled content as possible and free from harmful substances.
So far this year, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the EU have all commitmented to increasing plastics recycling to 100% under the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter. The U.S. and Japan were the only G7 nations that abstained.
Additionally, 14 leading businesses, including Walmart, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Nestlé, and L'Oreal, have strategized a way to achieve 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable plastic packaging by 2025.
Both Ellen MacArthur and UN Environment's Executive Director, Erik Solheim are calling on more actors to get involved. ♲